March 28, 2013 | Volume 43, No. 12

Build new highway bridge to last

I’ve heard comments regarding DOT plans for replacing Wells Bridge at 24 Mile Haines Highway. Living in the upper valley for over 10 years, at two, different times, I offer the following for consideration.

  I often hear fears, including fear of ore trucks, and of spending too much public money. I ask folks to lay aside their fears to consider potential and safety.

  When building a house or a storefront, do we choose a mediocre structure that barely satisfies, or one with potential to expand in usage, and is safe for many years?

  While on the Tourism Advisory Board, I helped bring the Port Chilkoot Dock upgrades to fruition. Hyperbole surrounding that project attempted to reduce discussions to “quarter-million dollar bathrooms” which, thankfully, the TAB didn’t buy into. Instead of a narrow, dusty, gravel strip with porta-potties, we now own a welcoming, professional, modern facility with paved public and commercial parking, sidewalks, restrooms, off-street gathering areas… almost completely paid for with state funds.

  Now we’re slated to get a new bridge also constructed with state and federal monies which would otherwise go elsewhere, benefiting another community. Why not build a skookum bridge, with potential for the future and the greatest safety for ourselves, visitors, and loved ones? Before downsizing the project because an ore truck may, someday, travel our highway, please remember school buses, emergency vehicles and your neighbors drive it year-round. Cataclysmic natural disasters are common in this area. Let’s build the best bridge, rather than quibbling about ‘ifs.’

  John Hunt